May Day and Play Day at Elon

Miriam Pace – volunteer in Archives
January 31, 2011

1950s May Day celebration in Alumni Gym

Elon College’s first May Day was celebrated in 1921.  However, there was a problem.  Dancing was frowned upon at Elon and when the spectators saw the girls “cavorting” on the lawn in front of West Dormitory, they were horrified!  There were no more May Days at Elon until 1931!  But from 1931 to 1942 the day and the dancing and the crowning of the Queen and King proceeded without a hitch.  Then…

What a difference a day makes!  During World War II, Elon College decided not to observe  its usual May Day with dances and celebrations while servicemen and women were fighting overseas.  Play Day replaced May Day for one year in 1943. Play Day was a gala sports festival, complete with a King and Queen.  However, King George Bullard was called to duty with the Army Reserves and had to abdicate.  His successor, Ed Watts was chosen to serve with Queen Helen Margaret Messick.  After 1943, Elon College went back to celebrating May Day and had dances and celebrations in Alumni Gym around the “May pole” until the last May Day was observed in 1964.

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